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O’Donnell Park described as “one of the worst”

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on September 16, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a story of some of the  Inspec engineers speaking to a County Board committee about the current condition of the structure as they did their inspection into the cause of the facade falling off last June.  The findings were not good:

The engineer, Dwight Benoy, gave his assessment in response to questions from county supervisors during a committee hearing on several reports on the condition of the O’Donnell structure.

“In the testing that’s been done, it’s probably one of the worst ones” of hundreds of buildings he’s inspected, Benoy told the board’s Transportation and Public Works Committee.

The article goes on to repeat the previous findings of the panels not being installed according to the original specifications, as well as the general state of disrepair of the structure.

Two supervisors, Mark Borkowski and Nikiya Harris, have called for the structure to be razed, while Marina Dimitrijevic expressed her frustration of how the building was allowed to get to such a poor state.

Interestingly, the cost of demolition is appearing to be the most expensive:

The repairs not linked to the concrete panels would cost nearly $2 million, according to estimates. Inspec recommended those repairs along with removing all 70 concrete panels, for a total cost of $5.4 million, or demolishing O’Donnell at a cost of up to $6 million.

Adding a bridge linking Wisconsin Ave. with the Calatrava-designed pedestrian bridge over Lincoln Memorial Drive would drive up the demolition option by nearly another $1 million.

Another point of interest is Walker’s confabulating statement regarding the County’s maintenance record:

Walker said shortly after the June 24 fatal accident at O’Donnell that all recommended maintenance on O’Donnell was up to date. He released copies of a 2005 assessment of O’Donnell Park and said all flaws had been corrected.

Walker said no required maintenance had been delayed, but that the structure required additional repairs on an ongoing basis. Cracks in O’Donnell support beams appeared as early as 1991, before the structure was opened. That prompted the county to fire the original architect and beef up support columns.

Again, he does not say when the repairs were made or offers any proof that they were, except for his say so.  And isn’t making necessary repairs part of the maintenance.  The Inspec report showed that there were $2 million worth of repairs that haven’t been made.

At the end of the article, we can see that the finger pointing is beginning to pick up in earnest.

There is an exchange regarding Jack Takerian blaming the project manager, J. H. Findorff & Son for poor oversight.  The company had previously denied being responsible for inspection or oversight, even though that is what their contract clearly calls for.

In another battle, the attorney for Advance Cast Stone is claiming that all the parties were notified of the change in construction methods.  Takerian states that the County could not find any such documentation.  If Advance has a copy of such notification, that could really come back to bite the County.  If Advance doesn’t have those papers, it could go all the worse for them.  Time will tell.


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